Another week, another Hollywood reboot. The machine continues in earnest to bring something old-made-new spectacularly to the screen (at least, that’s the intention) with the lure of that lucrative “franchise” like the poisonous apple of the Wicked Queen: the downside could be pretty dire but the temptation is too much to handle, and a bite must be taken. After The Girl in the Spider’s Web (also, strangely, out this week), Robin Hood is the next off the assembly line to reach the multiplexes with the classic tale given a shiny new makeover with Peaky Blinders director Otto Bathurst entrusted with the keys to the Sherwood Forest, following Ridley Scott’s underwhelming effort back in 2010.
You can see the enduring appeal of Robin Hood: the man who “steals from the rich and gives to the poor” has been contorted in many different guises over the years, whether into heroes super or otherwise, with one man standing up to the oppressive nature of those in power whose main goal is, well, more power. It’s a staple of many heroic tales but it’s in the way it’s told that gives it its sheen of originality and in the latest offering, we are going dark and gritty, stripping the characters back to their origins and showcasing the first moments of their evolution/revolution. While some the visuals here are pretty impressive, it’s far from enough to save a real misfire.
From the first moments, there’s something really off with the film and it’s a niggle that doesn’t really leave you alone throughout. There’s nothing wrong with trying something new, as Bathurst and co have tried here with their amalgamation of 300, John Wick, The Matrix and countless other action films that have done it better, but there needs to be a reason for it beyond trying to be different for different’s sake.It feels like a case of throwing everything you can at the screen to see what sticks and going with it, but all that does is make everything loud, dumb and incoherent as is the case here. The parts are all there, but the substance isn’t.
Indeed, there’s a decently assembled cast here but all of them are wasted, even horribly miscast in some instances, which doesn’t help its cause. Egerton, who was a breath of fresh air in the first Kingsman, has been somewhat pigeon-holed ever since and while he throws himself into the role here, his turn as Elton John in next year’s Rocketman can’t come soon enough for him. The same can be said for Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Aussie actor’s 134th (we think) villain role of his career to date, who tries to out “Alan Rickman” Alan Rickman with some truly awful results. Jamie Foxx tries to salvage some semblance of quality into the piece but even he struggles to find anything to latch on to, while Eve Hewson and Jamie Dornan are hopelessly underserved.
Anyone hoping that Robin Hood 2018 will bring a new dimension to the legend will be sorely underserved here as it’s sadly a real mess of a film. Desperately trying to breathe new life into the legend by making it appeal to modern audiences with excessive action set-pieces and overly elaborate visuals, the film becomes a real hodge-podge of ideas and narratives that only succeeds in becoming a noisy, vacuous mess. Avoid.
Scott J.Davis |
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Action, Adventure | UK, 2018 | 12A | 21st November 2018 (UK) |Lionsgate Films UK | Dir.Otto Bathurst | Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin